: ★★★★
Venue: Lyttleton Theatre, London
Cast: Giles Terera, Rosy McEwen, Paul Hilton, Tanya Franks, Rory Fleck Byrne, Jack Bardoe and Kirsty J Curtis 

A bright, headstrong daughter of a senator; elevated by her status but stifled by its expectations.  A refugee of slavery; having risen to the top of a white world, he finds that love across racial lines has a cost. Wed in secret, Desdemona and Othello crave a new life together. But as unseen forces conspire against them, they find their future is not theirs to decide.  

Since studying Othello at school, it's always had a special place in my heart. For this reason, I was very excited to witness a new cast take on the iconic roles and see the new vision that Clint Dyer had come up with.

After leaving the show, I found myself wondering for a long time what made this show feel so extraordinary, and so different from other adaptations of Othello I've seen. And quite frankly, it's the calibre of the cast. The entire cast is nothing short of exceptional. And while the set leaves most scenes down to imagination (it's strikingly blank), the cast bring the stage to life.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, it follows a young black general called Othello. After promoting Cassio to lieutenant, Iago is furious, and deems to have his revenge. When Othello marries the innocent Desdemona, Iago makes the decision to manipulate Othello into thinking Desdemona is in love with Cassio. The story unravels and Othello comes closer and closer to losing his mind.

One of the issues people seem to have with Shakespeare is the language, and having not seen a Shakespeare piece for a few years, I thought it may take me a while to adjust. However, there was no need for concern. The piece is so well acted that it's almost impossible to not understand what's going on throughout.

Paul Hilton is scarily convincing as Iago, and it's wonderful to finally see a portrayal of Iago that paints him as villainous as he truly is. While Rory Fleck Byrne and Tanya Franks are secondary characters in the play (Cassio and Emilia), I found their performances the most captivating of them all. Particularly Emilia's reaction to the death of Desdemona; it almost moved me to tears

It goes without saying that both Terera (Othello) and McEwen (Desdemona) were spectacular. I thought the chemistry between them was a little lacking, but I found it made the scenes between Cassio and Desdemona made the contrast feel even more stark.

As previously mentioned, the set is blank, and only features black and white colours. Because the set and staging is so minimalistic, I found it made me focus on the acting and the story more than I usually would. A slight niggle is that the set feels futuristic, and with a play that was written so many years ago, it felt quite jarring. And the use of black face in one particular scene just felt very peculiar, and out of place.

In terms of how Shakespeare can be, I found it very palatable. The exploration in themes such as racism and jealousy was expertly done; but for me, the heart of this show comes from it's cast. The talent on stage is astounding, and I'd recommend it for the acting alone. I'd highly recommend a visit to Othello before it closes it's limited season, in February. 

You can book tickets to see Othello at Lyttleton Theatre, here.

**photography by Myah Jeffers**

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